Sen. Jeff Merkley (D, Ore.) said on Sunday that Democrats will not agree to any new funding for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall.
ABC anchor Jonathan Karl asked the senator, a possible 2020 presidential candidate, "Democrats are not going to agree to any funding to build new border wall, is that correct?"
"That's right, none," Merkley said. "Border security all the way. In fact, the president has a lot of money we gave him last year for border security and he's not using it."
Congress was unable to pass a funding bill to avoid a partial government shutdown on Friday due to President Donald Trump's insistence on $5 billion for his proposed southern border wall. Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) have been adamant that they will not support legislation that provides money for the wall.
"We're absolutely willing to fund border security," Merkley said. "The American people want us to spend money in a smart way. Five billion is a lot of money. That's 650,000 children attending Head Start. It's two million meals a day for a year for seniors, and to spend it on a 4th-century strategy rather than something that improves border security is something we're not going to do," Merkley said.
"What about this idea of a compromise where the president gets some money for his wall in exchange for agreeing to provide some kind of legal status for the Dreamers?" Karl asked.
"You know, we went through the broader negotiation last year. The president said bring me a bipartisan plan. We sent up two senators from each party that went and briefed the president. He went from I'll take the heat, I'll stand behind this plan, to completely mounting down as soon as he was attacked by Breitbart," Merkley said. "We have a president who has no interest in the broader negotiation. We have a bipartisan plan on the table."
Karl brought up a 2013 plan that Merkely supported that included funds for the construction of 700 miles of border fence.
"There's a difference between a fence and wall," Merkley said.
"There is?" Karl asked.
"Thirty-foot concrete wall, 30-foot steel spikes, that's not the smart way," Merkley said.